Family adopts a new dog

Getting a dog is a bit like having a baby. Not only will your adorable new companion wake you up at night and—depending on their age—create a variety of messes around the house, you’ll also need to pick up dog essentials ranging from food and poop bags to a crate and dog bed. Shopping for pet supplies can be fun, but you don’t want to end up with a bunch of stuff you won’t use. We’ve put together this checklist for puppies and dogs (filled with absolute must-haves and optional extras) to help you welcome home your newest family member.

Your Dog Essentials Checklist

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1Feeding

Dog eating food out of a metal dish

For most dogs, mealtime is one of the best parts of the day. Make healthy choices, avoid table feeding and pay attention to the foods and snacks that your pup enjoys and they will thank you.

  • Dog food: Pick kibble and/or canned food that’s appropriate for your dog’s breed, size and age. If your pooch grows bored, try mixing wet and dry together for a tasty new texture. For more tips for choosing dog food, check out our complete dog food buying guide.
  • Dog treats: Different dog treats serve different purposes. Use healthier treats as your go-to rewards throughout the day and reserve the tastiest ones for training.
  • Food and water bowls: If you choose metal water bowls over ceramic or plastic, opt for food-grade stainless steel. Whichever bowls you pick, remember to wash them daily to avoid foodborne illness.[1]
  • Food storage: Especially if you buy the big bags of dog food to save money, you may want to purchase food storage containers so you can keep a week’s worth of kibble on the counter and stash the rest in your basement, garage or closet.

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2Sleep

Puppy sleeping in a dog bed

Teaching a new pup how to get a good night’s sleep may take time, but you can speed things along with the right sleeping gear. Ensure that your dog feels comfy and secure and they’ll (eventually) look forward to bedtime just as much as you do.

  • Crate: A dog crate can serve as a safe, den-like space to spend the night. Associate it with positive things, like dog treats and toys, rather than making it a place of punishment.
  • Bed: Choose a dog bed that fits snugly inside the crate. You can pull it out for daytime naps, which may help your new addition feel comfortable going into the crate at night when you put the bed back inside. If you get a puppy, they’ll likely be a shredding machine. Hold off on buying that cute designer dog bed until your pooch is a little older and has more self-control.
  • Blankets: Keep in mind that puppies may have nighttime accidents to start. Use bedding that can be easily washed and dried daily if necessary.

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3Potty Training

Dog sitting on a puppy pee pad

If you bring home a puppy or young rescue, potty training may be one hurdle you have to overcome as a new dog owner. Getting your fur baby to reliably poop and pee outside on a schedule takes time and commitment—not to mention an ongoing supply of pee pads and poop bags.

  • Training pads: Puppy pads are handy for apartment folk who can’t take their new puppy for a walk every couple hours. (Don’t worry—they learn to hold it!) Keep a fresh pad ready and lead your dog to it the moment they start sniffing around.
  • Poop bags: Not all poop bags are created equal. Buy biodegradable so that you can toss them into your green bin after a walk. A reusable bag holder hooked to your dog’s leash is also a good idea, so you never forget to bring a roll.
  • Stain and odour remover: The stain and odour remover you choose will depend on the situation. Some are designed to quickly clean urine from hardwood, while others are better suited to purge poop particles from thick pile rugs. You’ll likely need a couple of different formulas for different surfaces and types of accidents.[2]

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4Walks

A girl walking her dog on a leash

Most dogs require a couple of good walks every day.[3] These essentials will help to keep your pup safe and healthy on casual strolls and more strenuous hikes.

  • Collar: Keep your pup’s comfort top of mind when choosing a collar. A good measuring gauge is to see if your fingers fit snugly between the collar and neck.
  • Harness: If your pup is a constant puller or is very small (which means they likely have a delicate neck), you may want to consider a harness to reduce hacking and gagging as they strain the leash.[4]
  • Leash: A standard leash will keep your pup on task and safer from other animals and traffic. If you opt for a retractable leash, learn how to use it properly, as incorrect handling of this leash type can result in rope burns, entanglement and more.[5]
  • ID tags: Make sure your dog is tagged. Microchips are a smart idea, as is an ID tag attached to the collar with your dog’s name and your contact information.

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5Play

Puppy chews new toy

Pups live to play, which makes choosing their toys one of your most important/fun responsibilities. Selecting the right play items requires an understanding of what your dog likes doing (shredding, chewing, tugging) and watching for safety hazards.

  • Dog toys: Hard rubber and rope toys are great for active pups who like tug-of-war and playing fetch. Plus, they can withstand plenty of chewing, so they tend to last a while. You can also give your pup a puzzle toy. Fill it up with kibble or healthy dog treats and your doggo will remain laser-focused until they get every bite.
  • Stuffed toys: Soft toys can be used as companions, pillows or objects to be annihilated. Be aware, though, that chewed-off bits can be choking hazards. Grab small pieces before your pup tries to swallow them.
  • Pet gate(s): Need to keep your dog’s play contained? Consider a barrier. A simple gate or playpen is fine for most breeds, but bigger dogs will probably need a whole room or backyard.

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6Grooming

Dog being brushed by child

Millennia of doggo domestication has resulted in a shocking variety of canine coats and claws. Figuring out how to keep your pet groomed and healthy will likely require some reading about their specific breed and a chat with the vet. That said, here are some of the common items you may need.

  • Brush and/or comb: To help your dog become comfortable with their brush or comb, let them sniff it, be gentle as you go, offer a dog treat or two and establish a regular grooming routine.
  • Dog shampoo: Shampoos with natural ingredients and no chemicals are your best bet to avoid allergies and skin conditions. Watch your pup’s behaviour after bath time to see how they tolerate their shampoo.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste: Dog teeth don’t brush themselves. Whether you choose a tooth wipe, a finger brush (our personal favourite, because it offers the most control) or a regular toothbrush, the key to your dog’s dental health is brushing with dog-safe toothpaste every day.
  • Nail clippers or grinder: Clipping a pup’s claws too close to the quick is every dog mom’s nightmare. The fix? A nail grinder. It provides more control, eliminates splits and results in a smooth finish. (But if your dog is sensitive to noise, they may prefer nail clippers… or you may have to enlist the help of a dog groomer or vet.)

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7Travel

Happy dog in a soft-sided carrier for travel

Whether you’re taking a trip to the vet or a flight to another city, ensuring your pup travels safely and without too much stress requires a few essentials.

  • Seatbelt tether: To travel in the safest way possible, it’s important to keep your dog secured when in the car rather than allowing them to roam free and distract you. If you’re able, you can place your dog’s crate in the car. If not, a seatbelt tether that secures your dog’s collar or harness to your car’s latch system will keep them in one spot.[6]
  • Soft-sided carrier: If you have a small dog that you plan to bring on flights, you’ll need to purchase a soft-sided carrier so that they can fly in the cabin with you. Just make sure you check your airline’s specific weight and size restrictions, as they sometimes vary.

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